Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Åsa Wikforss: Why Do We Resist Knowledge?

Knowledge resistance is “the tendency not to accept available knowledge”, according to the mission statement of the interdisciplinary project “Knowledge Resistance: Causes, Consequences and Cures,” which was awarded a $5.6 million grant from the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences in October 2018. Åsa Wikforss is the project leader. A professor of theoretical philosophy at Stockholm University, she is also a newly-elected member – and the only philosopher – of the Swedish Academy, a prestigious cultural institution of 18 members appointed for life. In an age of misinformation both online and off, researching knowledge resistance could not be more timely. When senior politicians announce that the people have had enough of experts, it’s not long before a race to the bottom begins, where dangerous myths and misinformation can entrench themselves. In this interview, we discuss how knowledge resistance manifests itself in popular movements such as anti-vaxxers and climate [More]

Being for Beauty: Aesthetic Agency and Value

2019.07.05 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Dominic McIver Lopes, Being for Beauty: Aesthetic Agency and Value, Oxford University Press, 2018, 266pp., $65.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198827214. Reviewed by Robert Stecker, Central Michigan University The ambitious aim of this book is to offer a completely new, if partial, account of aesthetic value. This account is meant to stand in contrast with what Dominic McIver Lopes understands to be the received view -- aesthetic hedonism -- and the central chapters argue for the superiority of the new account over it. Aesthetic hedonism, as characterized by Lopes, asserts that aesthetic value is a property of an item that stands in constitutive relation to finally valuable pleasurable experiences of subjects who correctly understand the item. (53) In simpler if less precise language, things are aesthetically valuable if they would please for their own sake under certain conditions. Pace Lopes, aesthetic hedonism provides the kernel of a complete aesthetic... Read [More]

Should We Get Rid of Peer Review?

“Where philosophers of science have claimed the social structure of science works well, their arguments tend to rely on things other than peer review, and that where specific benefits have been claimed for peer review, empirical research has so far failed to bear these out. Comparing this to the downsides of peer review, most prominently the massive amount of time and resources tied up in it, we conclude that we might be better off abolishing peer review” That’s from the introduction of a new paper by Remco Heesen (Western Australia) and Liam Kofi Bright (LSE), “Is Peer Review a Good Idea?“, in the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. According to Heesen and Bright, the empirical evidence for the effectiveness of peer review in assessing the quality of research is “mixed at best.” Peer review’s limited effectiveness would perhaps not be a problem if it required little time and effort from scientists [which the authors use broadly to include researchers working in the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities]. But in fact the opposite is true. Going from a manuscript to a published article involves many hours of reviewing work by the assigned peer reviewers and a significant time investment from the editor handling the submission. The editor and reviewers are all scientists themselves, so the epistemic opportunity cost of their reviewing work is significant: instead of reviewing, they could be doing more science. Their [More]

Charity Vouchers: Decentralizing Public Spending

People sometimes object to the charitable tax deduction on grounds that it is "undemocratic", incentivizing wealthy individuals to exert philanthropic influence instead of filling the public purse. On the other hand, well-targeted philanthropy surely achieves more good than paying extra to the government (which may just go to paying down the public debt, funding unnecessary wars, military parades for the Great Patriotic Leader, corporate welfare, and tax breaks for the wealthy).  If choosing where best to donate your money, "the US government" would seem an unlikely answer.  We recognize that charities could use extra funds more effectively. So it seems worth exploring ways to boost the philanthropic sector whilst avoiding the potential downside of concentrating power in the hands of the ultra-wealthy. The obvious solution: charity vouchers.Charity vouchers would be a bit like basic income, but only usable for donations to eligible charitable organizations. Every citizen would receive charity vouchers (e.g. $1000 per month), to decentralize public spending and social responsibility.  To overcome collective action problems and benefit from economies of scale, individuals could choose to transfer their vouchers to a trusted 'meta' organization (like GiveWell) to disburse on their behalf.Like basic income, charity vouchers nicely separate the issues of "redistribution" and "size of government". They're the sort of thing that small-government [More]

The Sources of Husserl's "Ideas I"

2019.07.03 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Andrea Staiti and Evan Clarke (eds.), The Sources of Husserl's "Ideas I", De Gruyter, 2018, 475pp., $126.99 (hbk), ISBN 9783110527803. Reviewed by Chad Kidd, City College of New York Even though Husserl's Ideas I (1913) is not as familiar to Anglophone philosophers today as, say, his Cartesian Meditations or Logical Investigations (1900-01), the Ideas nevertheless has had the greatest influence on how philosophers today typically understand Husserl's signature contributions to philosophy. These contributions include the epoché, the phenomenological reduction, Husserl's particular version of transcendental idealism, the transcendental ego (which he "discovered" during this phase of his career), the absolute being of consciousness, the ontological concept of eidos or "essence" and its applications in philosophical research. This is because many of these doctrines received their first presentation to the public in the Ideas, and so many of the most influential critiques of these doctrines -- by philosophers such as Roman... Read [More]